George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Benjamin Pitfield, 19 May 1789

From Benjamin Pitfield

Philadelphia 19th May 1789

The Petition of Benjamin Pitfield, of the City of Philadelphia, humbly Sheweth.

That your Excellencies Petitioner hath been very unfortunate in Trade for some Years past, and by a series of unavoidable Losses, is now reduced to a State of Indigence, and not Able to Support his Family; unless he can Obtain some Assistance, he therefore is Emboldened to Apply to your Excellencies well known Goodness and Humanity, humbly Soliciting that your Excellency in your abundant Goodness will be pleased to Confer upon him, some small Office, under Government (either in the Customs or otherwise) whereby he may be Enabled to keep his Family from Want.

If he is so happy as to meet your Excellencies Approbation, any small Office that your Excellency may in your Goodness please to Confer upon him, he will execute with the utmost Integrity; and the Favour be always acknowledged with the sincerest Gratitude, both by him and by his, at present, helpless Family. For Proof of his Candour and Integrity he humbly beggs leave to Refer, to The Honourable William Patterson and Elias Boudinott, Esqrs.

He humbly hopes that your Excellency will take his Case into Consideration, and be Pleased to grant him, any thing, that Your Excellency in your abundant Goodness shall think Proper; and Your Excellencies Petitioner, as in Duty bounden, will ever Pray &c.

Benjamin Pitfield


This is probably the Benjamin Pitfield who is listed as a grocer living on North Front Street in the 1790 Census. Pitfield operated a grocery business in Philadelphia at least as early as 1779. He is undoubtedly the same Benjamin Pitfield who is named in Mathew Carey’s necrology as having died of yellow fever in the 1793 Philadelphia epidemic (Carey, A Short Account of the Malignant Fever, description begins Mathew Carey. A Short Account of the Malignant Fever, Lately Prevalent in Philadelphia: With a Statement of the Proceedings that took place on the Subject, in Different Parts of the United States . . .. 1794. Reprint. New York, 1970. description ends 151).

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